Geographic variation in diapause incidence, life-history traits, and climatic adaptation in Drosophila melanogaster

Evolution. 2005 Aug;59(8):1721-32.


In Drosophila melanogaster, exposure of females to low temperature and shortened photoperiod can induce the expression of reproductive quiescence or diapause. Diapause expression is highly variable within and among natural populations and has significant effects on life-history profiles, including patterns of longevity, fecundity, and stress resistance. We hypothesized that if diapause expression is associated with overwintering mechanisms and adaptation to temperate environments, the frequency of diapause incidence would exhibit a latitudinal cline among natural populations. Because stress resistance and reproductive traits are also clinal in this species, we also examined how patterns of fecundity and longevity varied with geography and how stress resistance and associated traits differed constitutively between diapause and nondiapause lines. Diapause incidence was shown to vary predictably with latitude, ranging from 35% to 90% among natural populations in the eastern United States Survivorship under starvation stress differed between diapause and nondiapause lines; diapause phenotypes were also distinct for total body triglyceride content and the developmental distribution of oocytes in the ovary following stress exposure. Patterns of longevity, fecundity, and ovariole number also varied with geography. The data suggest that, for North American populations, diapause expression is functionally associated with overwintering mechanisms and may be an integral life-history component in natural populations.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Climate*
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Cytogenetic Analysis
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Fertility / physiology
  • Food Deprivation / physiology
  • Geography
  • Inheritance Patterns / genetics
  • Longevity / physiology
  • Phenotype*
  • Reproduction / physiology
  • Triglycerides / metabolism
  • United States


  • Triglycerides